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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by…

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,5384551,058 (3.86)740
  1. 133
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (lorin77)
  2. 102
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (clif_hiker, 47degreesnorth)
  3. 91
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (foggidawn)
  4. 81
    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (chinquapin)
  5. 148
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (nysmith)
  6. 84
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (lauranav)
    lauranav: Both show relationships and point of view of a young girl.
  7. 62
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (inbedwithbooks)
    inbedwithbooks: Deze twee boeken vertonen veel gelijkenis, door de hoofdpersonages, nl.jonge rijke betweterige meisjes.
  8. 41
    The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (raizel)
    raizel: Both stories about brilliant and quirky children were recommended at the same time by my daughter. T.S. Spivet is the more real character and the book is beautifully written. Yes, T.S. Spivet is a boy, but I'm not sexist enough to let that bother me.
  9. 41
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (citygirl)
    citygirl: Castle is much darker and Flavia is more adorable than creepy (Merricat is quite creepy), but if you're interested in unusual young protagonists, with a very particular world view, try these.
  10. 30
    The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Flavia de Luce has a similar voice as Enola and both are young, precocious and underestimated detectives.
  11. 20
    Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes (y2pk)
    y2pk: Pre-teen girl investigating adult crimes, while putting up with her sometimes-strange family and home life. Emma Graham also appears in two other books, Cold Flat Junction and Belle Ruin. They should be read in order.
  12. 10
    The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (47degreesnorth)
  13. 00
    A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor (starfishian)
  14. 23
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (dara85)

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» See also 740 mentions

English (445)  Spanish (3)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (456)
Showing 1-5 of 445 (next | show all)
Unexpected. Excellent. Delightful. ( )
  atuson | Sep 7, 2014 |
King George is not a frivolous man

Yes, this is a book written for grown ups and yes, the main character is 11 years old. Flavia de Luce has a passion for poison, the vocabulary of an adult, and a bicycle named Gladys. Her mother died climbing mountains in the Himalayas and her father, Colonel de Luce, is just about as distant, showing more interest in his stamp collection than his daughters. It's part of the whole English reluctance to show affection and keeping a stiff upper lip, or something like that...

But things get shaken up a bit when a dead blackbird shows up on the porch at Buckshaw (the old mansion where the de Luces live) with a penny stamp stuck to it's beak. The next morning Flavia finds a dead man in the cucumber patch - well, he's not dead yet, but expires with a final word: "Vale." But who was he, and more important, who killed him? Was it the Colonel who had secretly argued with the stranger the night before, or Dogger, the dependable but unstable gardener (who still suffers from his experiences in Japanese POW camps)? Maybe he died from eating a slice of Mrs. Mullet's horrible cream pie? Whoever it was, Flavia is determined to find out with the help of her chemistry knowledge and Gladys.

In spite of a slow start, this was really an enjoyable read. It has a style that reminded me of Alan Bennett's "The Uncommon Reader." It's what the English like to call "wickedly funny," which apparently means that it's funny in a clever and witty way with a good helping of subtle sarcasm. And it's certainly all of those. My 15 year old son quickly read it (he has this habit of snagging any book I order and reading it first, which I wouldn't mind except he doesn't feel the need to treat them as gently as I would prefer!) and loved it, so even though it's written more for grown-ups (don't worry, there's nothing inappropriate here!) older kids will probably enjoy it just as well (most of it would just go over the heads of younger kids). My son and I are looking forward to another slice! ( )
  J.Green | Aug 26, 2014 |
Fun to read. I could not believe Flavia was 11—I tend to find prodigies more annoying than endearing—but fortunately, I was willing to suspend reality and enjoy the story unfolding, particularly the chemistry references. ( )
  spellfone | Aug 13, 2014 |
Flavia is a young chemist who is brilliant at solving mysteries. Follow her through this well written mystery of a murder, right in her own garden! Intricate and fun!
  mcorbink | Jul 4, 2014 |
This review may contain spoilers.

I like mysteries but have never really loved them (except for Nancy Drew, but that may have been a right-time, right-circumstances thing). But with Flavia de Luce, I really got sucked into this book. It was well done. I really like the chemistry talk (kinda goes with my interest in forensic crime/police procedural TV shows). At the same time, Flavia just has a lot of gumption. She's smart, and she's almost fearless-- both because she's an invincible youngster but also because of an innate morbid fascination. Any comparison with Wednesday Addams would be apt.

Ah, but what's the story?, you may ask. It starts out... well, let's skip the first little bit so you can enjoy that for yourself. Soon enough, the cook--yes, this is 1950s Britain and classism is an underscored reality-- finds a dead snipe on the doorstep, with a Penny Black stamp impaled on its beak. Her father is clearly unnerved by this when he sees it. Upon recovering himself, he snatches the offending object from the creature.

The dead jack snape will not be the only death on the property. Later that night, after Flavia overhears a heated argument between her father and a red-haired stranger, the same red-haired stranger is found lying in their cucumber patch. Flavia stumbles upon him as he takes his dying whispeedr, "Vale!"

And so starts the mystery that occupies the rest of the book. It is engrossing. And you should read it, to find out, like the best, "who dun it?"
  pegasus.rose.99 | Jun 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 445 (next | show all)
It's a rare pleasure to follow Flavia as she investigates her limited but boundless-feeling world. And it's nice to know she'll be back.
Impressive as a sleuth and enchanting as a mad scientist (“What a jolly poison could be extracted from the jonquil”), Flavia is most endearing as a little girl who has learned how to amuse herself in a big lonely house.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?

--William King, The Art of Cookery (1708)
For Shirley
First words
It was as black in the closet as old blood.
That means King George the Sixth, and King George the Sixth is not a frivolous man.
It is not unknown for fathers with a brace of daughters to reel off their names in order of birth when summoning the youngest, and I had long ago become accustomed to being called "Ophelia Daphne Flavia, damn it."
It occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No... eight days a week.
My particular passion was poison.
"I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind,
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! In my fashion"

It's from his Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae. Perhaps you know of it? I shook my head. It's very beautiful, I said.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.

In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction — eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950 — and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told take of deceptions — and a rich literary delight.


For very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery — especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak. Even more astonishing was the effect of the dead bird on her stamp-collector father, who appeared to be genuinely frightened. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed.

As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle. Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?

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It is the summer of 1950, and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events. For Flavia, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.… (more)

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